Red Sox

Red Sox Whiffing On Nelson Cruz Becoming Biggest Offseason Regret

By Andrew Celani, CBS Boston
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Nelson Cruz #23 of the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Nelson Cruz #23 of the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – I wrote on April 23 that the 9-11 Red Sox were getting exactly what they paid for.

I argued that the team did not do enough to bolster the lineup in the winter and entered the year with too many question marks.

I argued the team is taking their disciplined approach too far and is getting gun-shy on free agents.

Since that article things have only gotten worse, and the 27-32 Red Sox appear to be dead in the water.

Perhaps my final point in that late April article best sums up how I feel today:

When the Red Sox were faced with a glaring, obvious need in outfield this offseason they passed on Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and others. Instead, general manager Ben Cherington channeled his inner Moneyball Brad Pitt and rolled the dice on Grady Sizemore for $750,000.

Nelson Cruz, for one year and $8 million, currently has more runs batted in than the entire Red Sox opening day outfield.

We stand here now on June 5th with one of the worst outfields of all time. Meanwhile, Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz is raking.

The 33-year-old left fielder and designated hitter has an OPS of 1.064, is slugging .676 to go along with his 55 RBI and 21 home runs. His 21 home runs are 10 more than the entire Red Sox outfield.

His 55 RBI are just 15 less than Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr., Grady Sizemore and Daniel Nava combined.

In other words, Nelson Cruz is a one-man wrecking machine, and is the primary reason why the O’s, whose pitching staff ranks near the bottom of the majors in team ERA, are competing in the American League East.

By and large the Red Sox pitchers have been fine — it’s the offense that’s struggling.

So the frustrating part as a Red Sox fan is knowing the team could have had Cruz. Anybody could have had him — he signed during spring training on a one-year, $8 million deal.

According to data provided by Forbes, $8 million is the equivalent of four home gates at Fenway Park. So your peanut, cracker jack and beer money from a four-game set with Baltimore would have afforded the team with an outfield bat so desperately needed.

Instead, they banked on the unproven Jackie Bradley Jr. and oft-injured Grady Sizemore.

For a team that’s all of a sudden in love with low-risk, short term deals, it’s maddening to me that Ben Cherington and company didn’t make a run at Cruz.

So you tell me…who’s the safer bet? Somebody who hadn’t played in a regular season game since 2011, or somebody who’s hit 22 homers and driven in 75 runs in each of the last five seasons?

One person cost $750,000. The other $8 million.

You get what you pay for.

Read more from Andrew Celani by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @ACE_Worldwide.

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